Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi has explained why he thinks Lionel Messi is a tougher opponent than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona superstar Messi enjoyed another scintillating season, plundering 45 goals in all competitions in 2017-18, and geared up for the World Cup with a hat-trick in Argentina's 4-0 win over Haiti on Wednesday.

Mustafi came up against the Rosario-born forward during his time at Valencia and highlighted why he perceives him as a trickier adversary than Real Madrid icon and Ballon d'Or holder Ronaldo.

"Lionel Messi was my hardest opponent," he told Bild.

"I played him three times with Valencia. You cannot predict him, he is small and very quick, changes his direction quite often.

"When he runs towards three opponents you can nearly be sure that he will break through.

"Ronaldo is more of a striker in the box.

"Messi can also play good passes and make his team-mates stronger. For me, he is the best player in the world."

Mustafi also hailed the unpredictable nature of the Premier League in comparison to the Bundesliga and LaLiga.

"The Premier League is very exciting," he added.

"Every year, a different team can win the league and there is at least one top game every weekend.

"In Spain, there are only three teams. In Germany, Bayern [Munich] play their own league. Besides that, everyone can beat everyone."